Messi or Maradona?

Messi or Maradona?

By Paula Galván.

Just a few days after the Argentine national soccer team was crowned World Champion for the third time in Qatar, the local media rekindled the classic rivalry between stars Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi, but this time in relation to an apparent intellectual property dispute.

Although the media referred to the existence of a cease and desist letter, and even a lawsuit, between Diego Maradona’s heirs and Lionel Messi, the conflict was really about an opposition against the registration of a new trademark.  Moreover, Lionel Messi was not even a direct party to the dispute.  Let’s see what happened.

The heirs of Diego Maradona applied for the registration of the following trademark, to identify goods and services in classes 9, 16, 19, 38 and 41:

Specifically, the trademark “M10 MEMORIAL” seeks to identify a digital memory platform in homage to Diego Maradona.

Gedney S.A., filed oppositions against the registration of these marks, by invoking ownership of the trademark “MESSI 10”, Reg. No. 3081591 in class 41:

The opponent argued that the number 10 identifies the Argentinean soccer star, that Messi is a highly recognized and famous name throughout the world, and that the mark on which the complaint is based, which is widely used to identify various goods and services, contains the letter M and the number 10.  Gedney S.A. thus requested the rejection of the applications filed by the Maradona family, and argued that these marks could cause confusion to the consumers regarding the origin of the goods or services.

Our greatest sporting hero of 2022, Lionel Andrés Messi Cuccittini, was not at all involved in the oppositions against these applications, filed by Diego Maradona’s heirs.  The trademark “MESSI 10” is managed by Gedney S.A., and it is this company the one pursuing these complaints directly.  Lionel Messi is the owner of over 40 trademarks in Argentina, but none of them includes the number “10”.

Sattvica S.A., a company owned by Matías Morla, Diego Maradona’s former lawyer, also filed oppositions against the registration of the trademarks “M10 MEMORIAL” by Maradona’s heirs.  To sustain its complaint, Sattvica S.A. argued that these trademarks clearly evoke Diego Maradona, and that Sattvica is the exclusive owner of the trademarks “EL 10”, and of all Maradona’s trademarks.

The oppositions filed by Gedney S.A. and Sattvica S.A. against the trademarks “M10 MEMORIAL” (and design) in classes 9, 16, 19, 38 and 41 by the heirs of Diego Maradona are still at a very early stage of the proceedings, and it is unlikely that they are resolved by the INPI at any time before -at least- mid-2024.  The decision to be rendered by the INPI regarding the merits of the oppositions may be appealed before the National Court of Appeals for Civil and Commercial Matters.

In short, Messi and Maradona are not at all facing any trademark conflict against each other, at least as of the date of this article.  We do not want to have to choose any 10: both have been heroes in our sporting history.

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